Oconomowoc residents have mixed feelings about lack of tornado sirens

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by Tiffany Shepherd

OCONOMOWOC-- Two years ago Oconomowoc pulled the plug on all but one of its tornado sirens.

It saved the city a quarter of a million dollars, but left some residents feeling vulnerable during stormy weather.

When problems silenced one of Oconomowoc's warning sirens two years ago, city leaders were left to decide what to do.

They decided not to fix the siren.

They also decided against upgrading the other five sirens or buying at least six more that were needed to cover the growing community.

"At that time it was determined that we would abandon the old system and we would direct people to other opportunities for weather alerts," said police Chief David Beguhn.

An increasing number of people are being notified through weather radios, reverse 911, e-mail, and text messaging services.

Robin Stoll said that she finds out about approaching storms by watching the news or through her weather app and she thinks that is sufficient.

But, not everyone agrees.

"The cell towers don't always get you alerts fast enough. The sirens will get you them quicker than those alerts will get to you," said Tom Ashley.

Karen Dalporto's garage was destroyed by the 1994 tornado in Wales that killed two people. She believes sirens provide an extra layer of protection.

"There's money for other things so this has to fit in priorities somewhere," said Dalporto.

Whether your community has sirens or not, keep in mind that those who work in emergency management stress that sirens are designed to alert people who are outdoors and should not be your only source of notification.

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